After a few years of making it as a professional I had built up a very healthy balance but always in the back of my mind I have this trigger in me that makes me want gamble in a reckless way. What I mean by that is winning consistently and gradually had become "boring" for me. That was the worst thing to ever happen in my life, because I crossed a line.
At that point in my "career", all I needed to do was keep doing what I was doing, it was working for me very well, but as I said I had become bored of how easy it had become and I craved some type of pressure/fear when making my picks. I saw the 2002 WC as a massive life changing opportunity for me - (a) I thought, genuinly, that Argentina were nailed on to win that WC for many, many reasons which I bored everyone I knew with and (b) that this was a chance to make a massive push and get myself in a position that would set my life up in a fantastic way.
I unloaded 80% of my previous years work on Argentina on OR, winning the group and the individual matches. As we all know, my only joy there was a nervy 1-0 win over Nigeria, after that it was all down hill and my whole world came crashing down around me. I still watch the last 20mins of that Sweden match wondering how it's possible we couldn't even create good chances to score in desperation.
It was a huge blow to me psychologically, not even financially, because I was still well up but obviously as many gamblers know - the feeling of a massive loss often causes one to "chase". So frantically chase I did for the next couple of months, and the worst of all was that I delved out of my comfort zone of football/tennis into other sports which I followed (but would not claim to be expert on) in a rush to recover what I had lost.
Anyone with sense could have told me there and then that I was not going to be able to recover the 80% I had lost (built up over 4 years) in the space of a few weeks, but by then I had lost my mind, and consequently lost the remaining 20% I had built, and a fuck load more.
It took me a long time to get over it financially and mentally. Mentally more than financially, because obviously I have major regrets about what I did for many reasons - 1. It caused me alot of pain, but even more pain to people who were close to me (I didn't have a wife or kids or anything) and were worried for what I had done and what I might do to recover the situation. 2. After I finished A-Levels, I seriously wanted to become professional and was very pleased I was making it work despite my non-believing friends who didn't think it would be possible. After I fucked up, I knew that there was no way back for me now as a professional and I'd have to get back into the real world and that I had blown my chance to have my ideal job (aside from being a footballer
Once I had recovered my financial situation, I gambled again, but obviously not as a way of life. Stakes were alot smaller and win or lose it was not do or die. I was able to supplement gambling with working and that's the situation I find myself in now, and it's as good as it's going to get for me and fortunately I'm now in a very good position both personally and professionally.
Last football season, I wanted to get back into routine and did the football factory thread on MTF, mainly to test my self on a discipline level to see if I could stick to the rules I had set myself and even though the season ended negatively for me, I realised that I had now recovered myself on a discipline level and I could stick to it.
I still play "big" where I see fit, but not on a day to day basis. For example, I once again pinpointed Argentina for the Olympics (3k @ 9/4) and was able to recover my 2007/2008 season and more in one fell swoop (as I told Ryan previously - this was effectively my "bet of the year" - much like my Argentina 2002 pick
). I pick and choose my spots for big plays, otherwise I still gamble regularly, but they are mostly interest/minimal plays - ranging from £100-200.
For the US Open for example, I have a £200 EW double (£400 stake) on Serena/Novak. £50 EW (£100 stake) on JJ. £25 EW (£50 stake) on Nalbandian. Not major money, but enough to keep me interested.
I'm on the way to becoming a compiler now and I also have another role in football/tennis so I'm in a good place now because my life is still surrounded by sport, which is what I always wanted.